What causes Menopause Weight Gain?
Fluctuating hormones during perimenopause to post-menopause change the way our bodies may store fat, especially around the abdomen. The decrease in estrogen and progesterone, along with aging in general, and becoming more resistant to insulin, triggers metabolic changes in the body. One change is a decrease in muscle mass, resulting in fewer calories being burned, so all these factors result in our bodies storing fat instead of burning off the calories.
Most people become less active as they age. Paying attention to your activity levels and trying to move more may help keep you at a healthy weight.
Other factors, such as an unhealthy diet and not getting enough sleep, might contribute to menopause weight gain.
How risky is this weight gain?
Menopause weight gain can have serious effects on your health. Extra weight, & visceral fat especially around your midsection, increases your risk of many health issues, including:
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Type 2 diabetes.
Extra weight also raises your risk of some kinds of cancer, including breast, colon and endometrial cancers.
What’s the best way to prevent menopause weight gain?
There’s no magic pill for preventing — or reversing — menopause weight gain. But establishing these weight-control basics can help:
Physical activity, including aerobic exercise and strength training, may help you lose extra pounds and stay at a healthy weight. As you gain muscle, your body burns calories better, which makes it easier to control your weight.
For most healthy adults, experts recommend 30 mins a day of moderate aerobic activity, this can be a brisk walk. More vigorous aerobic activity, such as jogging, swimming or High Intensity Interval Training is also recommended as this will help boost your metabolism alongside lowering blood sugars and blood pressure. In addition, strength training exercises are also recommended at least twice a week. If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you might need to increase exercise more.
Also, find time to do activities that you enjoy as these can help you get exercise. This can include gardening, yoga or other active hobbies.
Increasing your activity levels may also help you sleep better. That in turn can make it easier to exercise more.
To get fewer calories without skimping on nutrition, pay attention to what you’re eating and drinking. Choose more, vegetables, fruits and whole grains, especially those that are less processed and contain more fiber.
In general, a plant-based diet is healthier than other options. Legumes, nuts, soy, fish and low-fat dairy products are good choices. Otherwise eat lean meat like chicken or Tukey & fish and seafood whilst limiting red meat. Replacing butter /ghee & sunflower oil with olive or avocado oil.
Studies suggest that more calcium and vitamin D in your body may be linked to less visceral fat. So load up on leafy greens like collards and spinach. Tofu and sardines are also good choices, as are dairy foods like yoghurt, cheese, and milk.
Keep a Check of your sugar intake
Added sugar is found in sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soft drinks, juices, energy drinks, flavoured waters, and sweetened coffee and tea. Also watch out for low-fat produce, i.e. yogurts & low-fat desserts as these can sometimes be loaded with high sugar content.
Other foods that contribute to extra dietary sugar include cookies, pies, cakes, doughnuts, ice cream and candy.
- Limit alcohol. Alcoholic beverages add extra calories to your diet and raise the risk of gaining weight.
- Improve sleep: Science says that lack of sleep can drive weight gain through the stress hormone, cortisol. Exercising regularly can aid sleep. When people don’t get enough sleep, they tend to snack more and eat and drink more calories.
Does Hormone Therapy ‘HRT’ lessen menopause weight gain?
Hormone therapy usually is used to help with hot flashes that affect quality of life. This treatment also may help redistribute the fat that accumulates around the centre of the body or abdomen. That type of fat is called visceral fat. And hormone therapy may help you manage your weight by improving sleep & energy levels, which can lead to healthier lifestyle changes.
However adopting a healthier lifestyle regardless of taking HRT & committing to changing your diet and exercise habits is key to easing peri – post menopause weight gain and can also help in the management of other associated symptoms of menopause, bloating, hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, low mood & brain fog.
Finally remember, gaining weight during menopause is common. Embracing the changes to your body that come with menopause can help your mental health.